Under is a film about depths. About being completely indulged in our surrounding. It’s about touch, connection, and love. And about being alone. It’s about our barest bodies. But what’s the place of fashion?
“Up there the light is white. Bodies fall from the surface. The water is bright, seems alive. Down there, from the abyss, darkness reigns. There she will deploy as for the first time. It’s there, amid the darkness, that will appear another form, that of a man.”
It’s as if Valentin Stip’s touch of the piano unravels a complete experience, a world, a story. Plunging in the water, different bodies clothed in diverse fabrics, moving in waves slowly and gracefully. Under water, everything seems slowed down and far away, as if isolated from all normal sensual experiences. Things don’t move in the same way, creating a fascination for the effect of liquid on the gravity pulling at our bodies. There’s a real fetishization of movement and texture itself as we closely observe tiny air bubbles frizzing through the water, vibrating skin, and smooth wavy textures blurring the distinction between materials like cloth and water. A fascination for detail, all made possible by the camera’s eye.
This is one of cinema’s great qualities for fashion: capturing the details of movement invisible for our bare eyes, giving access to another way of seeing the world around is. Of course, movement is essential for fashion, as clothing only really comes to live through motion. The bare piece of clothing, laying flat without a body, is unable to show the real potential of its design. It’s almost haunted, as a body that was once there or should’ve been. After all, clothes are designed to be worn and to move on the flux of the body. Fashion photography, therefore, often is focussed on creating a hint of movement in its shots too, something that stimulates our imagination of seeing a dress in movement, the fantasy of how it could be wrapped around our bodies walking along the breezy seaside. Cinema is able to take this dream scape a step further.
In an interview with NOWNESS, Kevin Frilet said:
“I wanted to create a liquid universe where time is suspended, space infinite and depth unknown.”
Much like the digital world in which the fashion film thrives. The dissolving of time and space is also quite metaphorical for the change in the perception of fashion through the online film. Nathalie Khan has clarified this by arguing that ‘digital media offers the spectator access to any given frame at any given time, offering the viewer a “permanent present,” which in turn has an impact on how we perceive the ephemeral nature of fashion as it suggests that fashion is constantly renewed and at the same time caught in the here and now. Whilst fashion photography only represents a fixed moment in the past, fashion film makes it possible to interact with each instant in the fashion circle.’
As a result, fashion is no longer strictly tied to a moment in the past (la mode, c’est ce qui se démode). Instead, the digital fashion film changes our perception of fashion as it’s constantly intermingled through comment and hyperlink. The online world is ever-expanding and developing new possibilities, which is very much in line with the aim of fashion. With the digital web connecting all its content, and references to older trends being made fast and easily, we should ask ourselves, can fashion really become passé?
Khan, Nathalie. “Cutting the Fashion Body: Why the Fashion Image Is No Longer Still.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture 16.2 (2012): 235–250.
Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. London: MIT Press, 2001.